Water scarcity resulting from climate change is the number one issue the world will have to grapple with in the future, according to chief climate scientist and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri.
On the one hand, we will have more water around us with sea level rising. On the other hand, though, drought caused by climate change will leave possibly billions of people without clean water.
This will cause great health and global security issues. Most of these problems will be caused by water imbalances.
The World’s Water — Imbalanced
Speaking yesterday at the 2009 Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, Pachauri said: “At one level the world’s water is like the world’s wealth. Globally, there is more than enough to go round. The problem is that some countries get a lot more than others.”
Pachauri went on to describe the global imbalances in short detail. “With 31 percent of global freshwater resources, Latin America has 12 times more water per person than South Asia. Some places, such as Brazil and Canada, get far more water than they can use; others, such as countries in the Middle East, get much less than they need.”
One and a half billion people in Asia, Africa and Latin America may be exposed to increased water stress as a result of this. Additionally, I reported previously that much of the western United States might face a similar situation, since there is a 50% chance Colorado River reservoirs will run dry by 2057 under current climate change and water management scenario.
Peace & Security Concerns
Countries around the world share water resources. As these resources disappear, huge peace and security problems could arise. Pachauri said: “Over 260 river basins are shared by two or more countries. As the resource is becoming scarce, tensions among different users may intensify, both at the national and international level. In the absence of strong institutions and agreements, changes within a basin can lead to trans-boundary tensions.”
“If there’s a major disruption to peace in one part of the globe, no other part is insulated from it. We need to look at what happens to the rest of the world with some degree of alarm; these influences have very dangerous implications for the rest of the world,” as Pachauri says.
We Must Act Now to Stop Climate Change
Without quick action, this can all very predictably cause chaos in our world — a world which we might say is in relative peace today. The cost of this action is not high. In fact, in the long-term, it looks to be an economic benefit not a cost.
Pachauri said: “Global emissions of greenhouse gases will have to decline by 2015. If we can achieve that, we may be able to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The costs of this are not high. A major mitigation would only postpone growth domestic product growth by one year at most over the medium term. That’s not a high price to pay for the world.”
As Tony Blair and others showed already, such investments would actually benefit the world economy and the economies of all world nations who engage quickly and proactively.
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